Showing posts with label Village Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Village Life. Show all posts

Recent Photos of Village Life...

On the way home from town yesterday we took a detour to the top of a mountain overlooking Happy City Golf Course and the fertile plains of Chiang Rai in the Wiang Chai area.

The day before there was a small village parade.  Moo 13 was showing off their rocket and collecting contributions from the households they passed.

The day before that we had a storm which took our biggest tree, just barely missing our house.  I returned from a bike ride not long before the storm hit and had no idea what was coming.

Life is always interesting living in a Thai Village.

Saving Puppies …

We have done our part to control the dog population of our village by having all our dogs, and cats, fixed.  That would be five dogs and two cats so far, if you include the in-laws pets.  Not everyone in the village shares our concern over this matter but one hopes that leading by example will have an effect somewhere down the road.

So the story goes something like this.  One of our neighbors went to work in the big city and left their small black dog with another neighbor who just so happens to be our gardener.  She lives just across from our property and walks to work with the little black dog hopping along on three legs, keeping her company most of the day.  She lounges in the lush grass under our trees and scavenges leftover food which our dogs don’t eat.  She is nearly as good as our cat at catching and eating mice from the neighboring fields which is a plus.

She was run over by a truck sometime back and there was a question as to whether she would survive or not.  She did but one back leg doesn’t work.  When in heat, she is pretty much at the mercy of the male dogs in the area due to her handicap.  Even though our three males are shooting blanks they still have a go at her, as well.  Previously none of her pups survived, perhaps due to her injuries, so nothing was done about contraception.

This time she had a litter of four but they were hidden under a rice storage shack for the first two weeks so nobody was even sure how many there were.  The gardener seemed to think there were three pups.  Suddenly there appeared, in a planter between the stairs and the house, a single black puppy.  The thought crossed my mind, something may have happened to the others and she selected the strongest or remaining puppy and moved it a couple hundred meters to the safety of our house.

To our surprise the next day there were four, one black, one charcoal grey, one brownish and one white.  Perhaps a reflection of the number and variety of partners.  This planter seemed a safe place with one way in and out, a row of Dok Dala or ginger looking plants at the entrance, and a dirt area at the back where one of our dogs likes to sleep on hot days.  The earth had been moved around to the point that a hollow had been created just the right size for the mother and her brood.

I was not all together happy the mother had brought her pups to live at our house as we have enough dogs already and I have suggested they be given away once they are old enough.  They are really messing with Cookie, our golden retriever’s instincts, as she gets very excited at the squeaky puppy noises emanating from the den.

So yesterday my wife was at the university as usual on the weekend, and sent me a text saying it was starting to rain in Chiang Rai.  The haze was thick, making it hard to discern smoke from cloud but I moved a few things that looked like they might get wet if it started to rain a bit.  At first the rain was pretty much what I expected, light and barely enough to create a drip from the eves.

The rain stopped and I thought that was it, when I looked out to see a solid wall of grey that looked very out of place, approaching from the west.  Suddenly the trees were all bending at odd angles and rain was being driven horizontally against the windows and into the covered lanai off the living room.  We have a lot of windows and they don’t all hold up to the firehose test when the rain comes at this angle and intensity.  I was soon monitoring the windows on the west and north side of the house, making sure any leaks would not get out of control.

Even over the noise of the storm I could hear the puppies crying and at first their mother didn’t seem to know what to do.  Eventually she managed to move her pups up onto the lanai and under the table where normally they would be relatively safe.  Soon, however, the entire floor was covered with water from the driving rain, as the pups cried and shook from the cold.  I had enough to do in the house and there was too much flying debris for me to go outside yet but I was keeping an eye on things from inside.  At least they were safely out of their den which was filled with water at this point.

Once the rain stopped I made my way through the debris to find the puppies.  Looking around I couldn’t find anyplace that was dry, when I noticed an overturned plastic tub.  Not a hand bucket but a heavy-duty container they often use to mix up cement on a construction site.  It reminded me of the box I had seen in Hawaii on my recent trip.  There it was made of wood and held 12 Doberman puppies but the idea was the same.  Sides high enough to keep the puppies in but low enough for the mother to climb over.

At first the mother was not keen on this idea and tried moving her puppies but after I moved this container to another area and found some relatively dry rags, she finally settled down and began cleaning and feeding her little ones.  Today, after a rainy night and morning, they are still where I put them and they seem happy in their new home.  Their eyes have just opened and they are still quite helpless but they have a caring mother who is doing the best she can.

I am not convinced they have much of a future but for now we have inherited a situation we can do little about so we will do what we can.  I just hope my wife doesn’t get too attached.  It may already be too late.

By way of update, here is a shot of the puppies today and one of mother and pups with Cookie looking on, taken by my wife with her iPhone 5 a few days ago.

Road Trip Part 3, Nong Wua So …

First order of business upon arriving, was to get a room at Nong Wua So Resort, the only place close to where we wanted to be.  We stayed there a couple of years ago but that time we made the mistake of not getting a room early in the day and had to settle for the last and least desirable room they had available.  The room and bed were not as nice as the White Inn Nong Khai but the wooden standalone bungalows were rustic and more interesting to look at.  Being able to park by the front door was a welcome convenience, as well.  In the morning light I was able to capture a shot of the pond at its absolute best.  Believe me it doesn’t usually look that good.

After seeing the nephew, and meeting the new Swedish husband and luk-khrung baby, we walked to a nearby temple compound with the ex-sister-in-law and the kids.  It was a huge area with old growth trees and a large pond with equally large fish and at least one good sized turtle.  Even the temple dogs were huge and their greeting echoed through the forest of trees, like the sound of thunder. 

The extensive temple grounds seemed to serve as a community park, at least for the ex-sister-in-law.  The fish and other wildlife entertained our five year old nephew, while the infant slept in her arms.  I wandered around taking pictures, generally doing my own thing, as usual.  On our walk back to their home we passed through the Nong Wua So Market, around sunset. 

While my wife did the shopping, I managed to capture my first passable iPhone 5 image.  I was lamenting not having my camera on me, and the numerous obstructions blocking my view of a very interesting sunset and cloud formation.  The best of the clouds had passed by the time I realized I had a camera in my phone.  Still I did compose one decent shot combining, the dramatic yet peaceful sky, with the vibrant and colorful market.

Sleep did not come easily, nor in adequate quantity for either of us that night, but soon enough it was morning and time to gather up family to go visit the grandmother in another village.  While the women folk lavished their attentions on the half-farang infant and the five year old played with friends, I occupied myself with the camera searching out interesting angles and portraits.  When I tired of that it was time to focus my attention, once again, on the writing of this blog post.

I tire quickly of the incessant questioning about why we don’t have, or want children, so I have learned to separate from the group and entertain myself with hobbies more to my liking.  My wife runs interference assuring others they need not be worried about me as I am quite capable of taking care of myself.  I forgot all about the Swedish guy finding out only later, he had gone off to visit friends in the village and to enjoy some home cooked Swedish food.

As I sat writing, there was a constant din of village talk in the background, in the Isaan dialect with which I am not fluent.  Still I understood enough, but I chose to focus my limited attention more on their emotive style of presentation which I find entertaining, or at least I did on this particular day.  Village people have an earthy, expressive way of communicating in general, but there are also distinct regional differences which I took note of.  It was all just background noise, really, while I sat writing with the laptop.

At some point my attention shifted to the route we should take the following day and I began looking at Google Maps on the iPhone.  This trip was my first encounter with GPS and I was learning as I went.  In the car I had to turn the navigation lady off, as she kept telling me to go in a direction not of my choosing.  I must admit, marking where I was occasionally, did make reproducing a Google Map for this blog a little easier in the end.

Later the second day after leaving the family, my wife thought it might be a good idea to have a massage in Udon.  She found a place on her iPhone which sounded like it would do.  We have massaged together many times over the years but this was the first time we ended up in separate rooms, as well as the first time I had been offered a special or what is sometimes refer to as a Happy Ending.

The girl seemed unfazed by my somewhat parochial suggestion that her offer might not be entirely appropriate considering my wife was figuratively, if not literally, in the next room.  I did sense a little disappointment at the loss of a bigger tip but that was all.  When I asked about her standard procedure she casually offered, she was required to ask but it was no big deal.  I just couldn’t get over her casual naïveté, unusual questions and limited insights.  She was young, however, so perhaps she was representative of modern girls in her profession. 

The wife and I had a good chuckle in the car on the way to dinner.  We had clearly chosen a place that specialized in sensual, as opposed to therapeutic massage.  Speaking of dinner, we had both noticed a nice modern looking restaurant on the highway and my wife suggested we try it out.  Surely we couldn’t be wrong twice in one day. 

She was eager to eat something other than village food for a change, feeling the need for something more substantial in a nicer environment.  Considering the number of patrons, both Thai and Farang, we had high hopes for the food at Faroh House, but we were sadly disappointed.  The best part of the meal was the garlic bread and desert.  Nothing tasted anything like what we expected.  Everything was too sweet and there were strange fillers, like peas, in my lasagna.  Her fish was not much better.

So it appears we are indeed capable of being wrong on multiple occasions, all on the same day.  Chalk it up to experience and try not to be too disappointed, I guess.
The pond at Nong Wua So Resort.

Our bungalow.
The poser.

Facebook time again.

The temple lake and buildings.

The temple grounds.

The temple turtle.

Sunset at Nong Wua So Market.

Ex-sister-in-law and new mother, again.

Nephew and friends
Grandmother weaves straw mats with this stuff.

Little boys and their ice cream.

A Lost Day …

Great expectations and grand visions of another epic ride home from town, turned into a lazy day at home devoid of any energy or ambition at all.  The night before I laid out a few items in preparation for the ride but fell short of putting the bike in the car.  Good thing I didn’t, as I was in no mood to get out of bed when my wife did, to prepare for school.  By the time she was leaving and had kissed me goodbye, all I could do was rollover and sleep for a few more hours.  Even then, I got up out of embarrassment at the hour, rather than because of feeling fully rested.

Opened the house, walked Cookie, turned on the router and computer, ground fresh beans, drank coffee and browsed the internet, all while I was still in a state of energy deficiency.  Almost forgot to call my father on Skype, so dull were my senses.  Watched the second half of the Lance Armstrong interview with Ophra.  For me this whole saga illustrates so well, the notion that history is written by the winners, an opportunity that has been so glaringly stripped from him. 

Politics, religion, business or sports, winning is what is expected and rewarded.  Good losers, like good guys, finish at the back of the pack and are not remembered.  Throughout history the biggest winners have often been endowed with monumental flaws, as well.  The difference these days seems to be the fact we find out the truth when they are still alive, rather than years after their passing.  In some ways the big lie made for a better and more motivational story but our appetite for scandal and retribution seems greater than our desire to feel good these days.

I spent some time thinking about Phil’s questions from the last post but could not conjure up succinct and satisfying answers.  My answers are more likely to be seen a jaded and cynical or evasive and dismissive.  I will leave it to the academics to write papers on Thailand’s future, to further their own careers and advancement in the halls of academia.

Even in this small village where we live, bordered by a new rubber plantation on one side and rice fields and hillside orchards on the other, no one can say with any certainty what the future holds.  Have the children really moved to the city or are they there simply to work, while their hearts and homes are still in the village?

As for the question of “whether the government's higher rice payments are a significant benefit and if so how is the additional income being used.”  If one understands that the first goal of any entity is self preservation, then the inflated rice prices have indeed benefitted the intended party.  The governments power base has been broadened and reenforced.  Still, most villagers are in a state of constant debt, something that seems to be written into the DNA of most humans, and no amount of money thrown at the problem will ever alter that most human of traits.

For example it is commonly required in the village loan schemes, that you payback a loan before you are able to borrow more.  Here people simple get a bridge loan, from a loan-shark, to carry them from one loan to the next.  The money is then treated more like income than money to be invested and repaid.  Getting more money from the government only raises expectations and expenses.

To be honest, these kinds of things hardly register a blip on my radar these days.  Not sure what that will say to others, about me, but no doubt something can be made of it by those so inclined.

I captured this image in the field next to our house before retiring for the night, so thought I would add it here.

Rethinking The Blog for 2013 ...

So there are plenty of people blogging about tourism, sex, dating, politics, the weird and whacky, retirement, and of course how cheep, cheep, cheep, living in Thailand is.  None of those topics are of any real interest to me and as I have stated before there is no desire on my part to write a how to guide on anything.

From the feedback on this year’s opener, I am thinking of revisiting something I did more of early on.  Instead of looking outward for big events and big pictures perhaps it is time to focus once again on the little things, a bit closer to home.  While searching the horizon for a new direction, I was reminded that my readers might be looking for something a little more intimate.  Perhaps a simple look into the daily pulse of a life in Thailand, far removed from Bangkok and the well traveled tourist areas, is something I could devote more time to this year.

Take today for example, I awoke to an internet that simply would not stay connected.  In a matter of seconds, my router would dropout and start trying to connect again.  Sometimes these things self correct but not on this occasion.  I have found over time, that when calling the TOT service center it is easier to select the Thai assistant over the English speaking one, and that is what I did this morning.  Within half and hour things were back to normal, which is far from spectacular, but at least things work again.

While waiting I drank coffee, the last of the beans a visiting New Zealand friend who owns a coffee shop and roasts and blends his own coffee, gave me.  As I enjoyed his unique blend, I played around with setting up my new hand-me-down iPhone 4, after resetting it to clean out all my wife’s settings and content.  You see, yesterday I got my wife a new iPhone 5 while we were in town.  Since she uses her phone a lot more than I do, it only makes sense that she have the latest model, besides even the 4 is a step up from what I have been using.

Today was also time for Cookie’s weekly swim with the fish, followed by a thorough shampoo and blow-dry.  Later, after we got Cookie all cleaned up and smelling great again, I though a little about going for a ride but got caught up in searching out new Mt. Bike routes on Google Maps.  It took much longer than I planned but think I have a doable route to tryout tomorrow.

We take Cookie to a vet in town for her shots but there are five other dogs, not all ours, and a two cats that we take care of by having a couple of local vets drop by the house to administer shots.  They have now come and gone.  It is not always easy to round them up but still it is much easier than taking them somewhere in the car.  Cookie is used to cars but the others aren’t.

The sprinkler system has been acting up lately so the guy who installed it finally showed up to have a look and take the sprinkler heads home to work on.  My wife and I walked Cookie after feeding her and as usual our three outdoor dogs accompanied us on most of our walk.  They often stop and wait for us at home, after the first round.  As we walk the 400 meters to the end of the soi with Cookie on a leash, the others roam free as usual, making for interesting viewing as we cross the territorial boundaries of the other dogs who live in the connecting sois and houses along the way.

All the posturing, bluffing and barking that goes on is quite entertaining to me.  Then again, I like dogs and don’t expect them to act like people.  I find it necessary to watch what signals I send out as our three males can become emboldened by the wrong tone or gesture on my part.  By now all the personalities are well known and all I need to do is encourage them to move along after they have done their doggy thing. 

Even with Cookie on a leash, the grownups are afraid of her but unlike their parents the little children in the soi often run up to Cookie and give her a big hug.  Big, being the operative word since she is much bigger than they are.  Come to think of it that is something I don’t have a picture of, but the fading light at that time of day is not conducive to action shots, at least not with my camera.

With the sun having set, perhaps it is time to put this to bed and think about that ride I am planning for tomorrow.

Phu Chi Fa and Phu Sang, A Family Day Trip...

We loaded up five adults and set off on our first real mountain drive in our new Fortuner.  Someone had never been to Phu Chi Fa and someone else needed to visit a market near Phu Sang Waterfall so we took a circular route which included the shorter but steeper 40 km assent of Phu Chi Fa followed by a longer 110 km mountain and valley drive to return home.

With three rows of seats, we rode 2 in front, 2 in the middle and 1 in the back.  Everyone seemed to have a comfortable ride and I really enjoyed driving.  It was a very different ride from the old truck.  Comfort, control, handling and visibility were great, as I took on two steep climbs and a myriad of mountain bends.  It was a bit hazy on the mountain top but we got a few nice pictures anyway.

The classic Phu Chi Fa shot.

New car and the driver at the trailhead to Phu Chi Fa.
On the trail to the summit of Phu Chi Fa.

Later we stopped at Phu Sang Waterfall for a picnic lunch and I ventured up beyond the falls for the first time.  The steep stairs leading to the top were interesting and lead to a raised wooden walkway that meandered through the lush forest and past a bubbling hot spring before looping around to where the trail began.  I loved the walk as it reminded me of similar hikes we have taken in the old growth temperate rain-forests in the Pacific Northwest region of the States.  The roadside park in front of the waterfall is great but one really needs to take in the short trail above the falls as well.

Looking down on the park from the falls.

The stairs to the top.

I couldn't capture an image of the bubbles rising from the bottom of the pool.

Five Years Later ...

It has been five years since we moved into this house, which in the goodness of time became our beloved home.  I have heard some argue that a house is little more than a shelter but for me it is so much more.  While comfort and convenience do come into play, they are but practical things that do not touch the deeper reaches of ones soul.  It is not so much the modern conveniences that are incorporated in the house, or even the size or the shape that are of importance to me.  It is more about how I relate to the space, both indoors and out, and how it all makes me feel.  Of course I can’t speak for others, but I believe our physical surroundings play a major role in our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.  Surely living in concrete or wooden boxes, commuting in metal boxes and working in cubicles exacts a heavy price on the human spirit.

After rereading what I have written in the past about adjusting to life in Chiang Rai, and the phases one goes through, I found most of it still holds true five years on.  It is still a work in progress, ever evolving and changing as I believe life is meant to be.  Some activities have been tried and discarded, not likely to be revisited.  Some friendships have foundered as our paths have diverged.  As I continue to meet more people, and the circle of people I interact with in casual social settings grows, inversely I seem to be retreating from involvement with the more taxing sorts of relationships.

So many people live such messy lives and I don’t wish to be put in a position of cleaning up their messes.  Much of my tolerance of other’s lifestyles and choices is predicated on them not messing up mine.  While I am not inclined to force others to do things my way, I do equally resist modifying how I live to suit others.  I have often been too accommodating in the early stages of new relationships, leading to difficulties down the road when I start to draw lines, differentiating things I will and will not do to maintain a relationship.

With physical proximity not playing a part, due to my chosen place of abode, it does not feel compelling nor practical to limit my friendships to those who live in Chiang Rai.  The demographics of the local expat community, spur me on even further to cast a wider net in pursuit of likeminded individuals or people I find innately more interesting.  This blog has played a major role in connecting me to the kind of people I enjoy corresponding with, and when circumstances allow, meeting when they visit the area.

Sometimes I serve a passing role in the lives of those who dream of living in Thailand and enjoy reading about others who have already done it.  I play my part and then, at the appropriate time, fade into the sunset.  There are still others who from time to time drop me a line to let me know how they are doing.  Not much need to ask about my life, as much of it finds its way into the prose and imagery of this blog.  I choose to share part of my life in this more public format but I understand there is much that is better confined to emails or phone calls and I also relish those opportunities to interact on a more personal level.

For me it is perhaps a bonus that we don’t live next door to each other and do not feel the need to interact or correspond daily.  I have never been good with routines or a regimented lifestyle.  Give me freedom and spontaneity any day, over monotony and repetition, fixed to the relentless ticking of a clock.

As expected this has turned out to be my wife’s year, as opposed to mine.  Most things have revolved around her university schedule, weekend classes and midweek homework.  Her levels of independence and self confidence have grown over the year, as she has learned to drive on own and do her homework with no assistance from me.  Her first term’s, 4 A’s and a B+, were entirely hers and reflect her own accomplishments.  She has taken her role as class leader seriously and developed socially as well as personally, to a noticeable degree.

For many years the core of our relationship was companionship and our enjoyment of spending time together.  Being older and more experienced I, more often than not, took the lead in sharing my world with her as we spent time traveling, working out in health clubs and partaking of Western food, music, television and movies.  Having lived in Thailand nearly as long as she has, we do not fall into the typical pattern of Thai-Farang relationships where the husband doesn’t speak Thai and is so often dependent on the wife as translator and guide.

I guess I hadn’t realized how much control I exerted over our relationship, until my wife started taking more control over her own life.  This whole process has been eyeopening and educational, for me as well as her.  I am not always comfortable with this evolutionary process but I understand it needs to happen.  I am considerably older than her and the chances are she will find it necessary to make do without me at some point.

Though her schooling has contributed to us spending more time doing things separately, the dogs and the house are probably more responsible in their own way.  With less of it, I relish even more the time we are able to spend together.  Hopefully we will find time to travel together, one of my favorite things, during her next school break.

This morning, in addition to the heavy fog, there was a distinct chill in the air.  This is our first, and somewhat late to arrive, wintery morning of the year.  I am sitting in the car, under a tree, waiting for my wife with the windows down, something I don’t often do.  From time to time a tiny leaf drifts in through the window, as I write to the sound of the birds in the trees and the occasional footsteps and murmuring of students walking to and from class.  There is something about a university campus that is both calming and stimulating at the same time.  Wrap it all up in a cool winter morning in Northern Thailand and I am quite enjoying waiting for my wife today.

It has been a very long time since we enjoyed Sunday Brunch at the Meridien but with her class ending early today, we will be able to enjoy one of our favorite dining experiences later this morning.  Apparently class is over and she is on her way so I had best sign off and focus my attention on her.

Apologies for Neglecting the Blog ...

While I continue to ride my mountain bike and take pictures, posting them on Google Plus, Facebook and ThaiVisa, I have struggled with where I should take this blog.  If anything, there has been too much to write about and I have found it difficult to focus on any one thing long enough to get it on the page.  Endless distractions and my attention is diverted again and again toward something more interesting or more pressing.  Without a vision of where I want the blog to go from here I often resort to posting pictures, which is the easy way out, but perhaps better suited to Google Plus.

My wife has been doing exceptionally well with her university classes but that leaves me playing househusband on the weekends, cleaning the house, doing the dishes and feeding the dogs.  We have a new car, after nearly a year long wait, and sold the old truck with remarkable ease.  In contrast, unfortunately, our gardener’s husband died, suddenly and unexpectedly a few days ago, so we are still in the midst of the multi day funeral and all that entails.

After a week or two of hazy uninspiring days we have once again been blessed by beautiful skies, after the heavy morning fog burns off, that is.  The trails are no longer muddy or rutted, the bike is performing better than ever with the recent upgrades and I have gotten some amazing photographs while losing a few pounds along the way.  Presently I have plans to upgrade my bike frame, after new models come out at the end of the year, moving my recent upgrades to the new frame.  I am still uncertain how I will feel about riding the motorcycle this winter.  I seem to be getting much more from the mountain bike for the time being.

Two regular readers are now in Chiang Mai and another has recently retired to a town not far from Chiang Rai and even closer to our village.  Phone calls sometimes replace writing as a distraction these days.  The recent forum drama has subsided after a few members managed to get themselves banned from posting, and a brief spell where all comments were subject to moderation before being posted.

While the somewhat idillic life I write about stands in stark contrast to the often messy and troubled existence of many here in the Rai, the thing I find most disturbing, is the use of that contrast, not as a source of motivation and inspiration, but as a justification to openly ridicule and deride both me and my online persona.  It strikes me as odd that one would willingly take on the label of village idiot or serial underachiever, brandishing it as a badge of honor, while condemning those who have orchestrated a smoother less troubled path through life.  Taking pride in ones triumphs seems to have been replaced by boasting of one failures and shortcomings, in some circles.  I find this phenomenon strange indeed though I suppose it is instructive to be reminded of the darkness which envelopes the lives of some.

I am still making plans for my annual pilgrimage to visit my aging parents.  All aspects of this trip are much more up in the air than usual, which may lead to a trip somewhat different from past years.  Once again I will find myself traveling alone as my wife stays home to take care of the house and dogs, while continuing to attend classes.  I didn’t feel that I could put off the trip until her next school break.  The swirling torrent of thoughts and emotions that engulf all stages of my preparation, travel and return do not seem to abate with time or repetition.  Each year, each trip seems more torturous than the last and stands out as one of the very few unpleasant facets of my life.

I am of a generation dealing with the sometimes slow and painful decline of our parents.  The denial of death and wanton pursuit of longevity seems at times to have lead to greater suffering as people hang on longer and longer, lingering in some twilight-zone, devoid of the joys of living while resisting and denying the inevitability of death.  Through modern living we have so successfully removed ourselves from the natural rhythms of existence that we seem ill equipped to deal with our own mortality or the mortality of others.  Watching my parents is affecting my life view as is living here in this rural village in Thailand.  I feel lucky to have made the transition to a simpler yet richer life when I did.  I see life so differently than I did living in Bangkok for so many years.

I would like to say I will be writing more in the coming day, but I really don’t know.  Perhaps the long hours of travel, or what I encounter and feel while in Hawaii, will cause me to shutdown rather than motivate me to write.  I guess only time will tell.

Here are some recent shots to help end on a more positive note.

Dreams and Nightmares ...

After dealing with a forum stalker lately, who seems to be off his meds, I was in dire need of some trail time yesterday.  I pondered for a while which route to take to avoid the worst conditions.  Anyplace where they are hauling corn or lamyai the trails were sure to be awful so I settled on trying to find a strange place I had stumbled upon once before.

It looks like someone’s dream turned into a nightmare.  A resort in the middle of nowhere, deserted and dilapidated, a dream abandoned to the forces of nature and time.  To get there I started by traversing our village from west to east.  Popping out into the rubber plantation on the other side I was confronted by a road closure sign. 

Riding up to where the backhoe was digging I enquired as to the possibility of getting past.  The only path I could see was wading through deep loose freshly excavated clay.  To my surprise the backhoe driver drove from one side of the trench he was digging to the other, making a relatively stable track for me to walk my bike across.  After thanking all the workers profusely, I was soon back up to speed and heading on my quest.

Since most of the day’s route was familiar I had not bothered to glance at Google Earth before leaving.  I had found it before so surely I could find it again, I thought.  As the trail got narrower and more overgrown nothing looked familiar and it began to cross my mind that I could be lost.  The thing is, thinking you are lost and being lost are the same thing.  Unwilling to acknowledge defeat I persevered, when suddenly I found what I was looking for.

Across an area of open scrub was a small gap in the vegetation that I recognized as a way into the ghost town I was searching for.  What was once a road and cul-de-sac, meant for houses, was nothing more than a narrow overgrown trail by now.  After riding around the property and taking a few pictures I put my attention to finding a way home.

Nearing the river I caught sight of what looked like a potential photo op.  A large mound of corn husks was populated by a herd of cows lazily munching away and a few farmers and their equipment taking a break after bagging their corn.  More photos, and a little friendly banter this time, confirmed my suspicion that the best path forward was to stick to the road all the way back to Phaya Mengrai.  The cross country route was heavily rutted, I was informed, by the hauling of corn in overloaded farmer trucks.

Trying to make the best of this more trafficked route, I stopped at the main market to replenish my water bottle and indulge in some fried bananas.  Sticking to the back lanes took me past the village pond and recreation area where I stopped to eat my bananas and take more pictures.  While being pestered by some little kids who perhaps should have had adult supervision, I managed to capture a few rainbow shots both over the pond and out in the fields.

From there it was a fairly easy 11 km ride home, 3 km of which have been recently resurfaced, making for a very smooth ride.  Arriving home I was dirty and tired but content as endorphins continued to flush through my system.  The world was in balance once again and nothing could dislodge that smile upon my face.  Just another wonderful day on the trail.